CHANGING THE WORDS WE USE

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Have you ever noticed how often we say sorry? Something like 375 times a day. OK that number is a guess but probably not too far off. We say sorry a lot.

Apologising is not a bad thing when it’s warranted. But it’s one of those words thrown around more than needed in everyday interactions, especially by women.

“Sorry, can I ask a question…”

“Sorry, do you have a minute…”

“Sorry, you go first…”

“Sorry,” when you’re walking along and someone passes you and you have to move.

There are lots and lots of sorrys that slip out and this video demonstrates it so well.

There could be a few reasons that women are more apologetic. It could be that we are generally more concerned with the emotional experiences of others and want to promote harmony in our relationships. It could also be through generational conditioning to be agreeable, kind, and polite in preference of keeping the peace.

There’s nothing wrong with being kind or polite, and wanting harmonious relationships is very normal. We don’t have to be sorry about it though.

Saying sorry affects us in deeper ways that don’t automatically seem apparent. It gives off certain energy that quietly undermines our voice and our confidence.

And it’s not only the word sorry that can affect our confidence.

Phrases like: “I’m not sure, but…” or “I’m no expert, but” where we add qualifiers to our sentences.

Then there are words like ‘should’ which add extra pressure, ‘can’t’ which keep us small, ‘impossible’ which places limits on us. There are many words that can affect us. They can also affect each of us differently depending on our own life experiences and the meanings we have given them.

So what can we do about it? A lot as soon as we become aware that we are doing it.

Start paying attention to the words you use each day and tune into how they make you feel when you use them.

Does saying sorry feel off to you after you’ve said it? Is it an automatic response?

Are you ‘shoulding’ more than ‘wanting’ or ‘choosing’ to do something?

Are you saying ‘I’m no expert’ to avoid seeming like a know it all?

Once you become aware you can begin to retrain yourself to leave out words and phrases that keep you small or undermine you. And then you can begin to replace them with more empowering words like ‘can’, ‘possible’, and ‘will’.

Retrain yourself by placing a dollar coin in a jar whenever you notice yourself saying an unwarranted sorry and then donate it to charity.

Notice when you say should and instead turn it around. For example, if you say, ‘I really should go for a run,’ instead try, ‘Going for a run would make me feel so good and really help me release some tension that I’ve been feeling.’

Can you notice the difference? There is less pressure and more desire to do the run because there are obvious benefits in doing so.

Ultimately, you decide what you want a word to mean and what words you want to use in your everyday language. If a word is not working for you, choose another.

As our roles change in society we now have an opportunity to also change the language we use.

Our language is powerful and that power is yours.